Some people know their weaknesses and strengths and act accordingly. I, unfortunately, am not one of those people.
I constantly put myself in situations where I’m completely unsure of the outcome, in the hopes that I’ll be able to accomplish something new & different or learn something about myself.
I have these stupid, hopeful intentions (they should actually be called hopeless intentions) and somehow I convince myself that ‘it will be different/better this time’.
Actually, maybe it should be called insanity. Yes, that’s more accurate.
When I put myself in these situations, I rarely fully commit to actually making a change. Rather, I typically fly by the seat of my pants and hope that the circumstances will dictate my actions; not that that makes any sense at all.
I suppose I do not want to actually take responsibility for anything, so nothing can ever be my fault. A sane person would see that as also not being able to take credit if something goes perfectly right. But I would rather forfeit the possibility of receiving that credit 100 times over in an attempt to prevent the blame for the opposite that may occur only 1/100 times.
The most recent manifestation of this took place last weekend during a camping trip with our Church.
Perfect circumstances, perfect opportunity to become the person I should be, the person I want to be: a better Christian, a more grounded human being, a better Mom who can enjoy camping and who can entertain her kids with few resources, someone who is content just relaxing & hanging-out quietly, a mom who never loses her temper and who can negotiate effectively with kids without the first sign of being overbearing or meek, without raising her voice, the nurturing mom who is perfect in every way.
So I signed us up for the camping weekend.
And I resolved myself to be that person. I told myself that it would happen; I would be ‘that’ mom on the other side of this adventure.
As Friday night drew nearer, I made excuses about why hubs & I should leave the kids with grandparents & take the camper to the lake by ourselves. I speculated that we weren’t sure what to expect/ I wasn’t sure the kids would like it, etc. So hubs & I took the camper to the lake & dropped it off; attending the church service only momentarily; returned home, got in the hot tub & went to bed early.
Saturday morning, we took the kids to the lake at noon, missing all of the kids’ activities at 9 & 10. No other activities were planned until the 7PM service, so we had 7 hours to play & be a family. I forgot to mention that Hot Mess Princess presented Friday afternoon with a horrible cough, so we were apprehensive to let her be outside after dark, esp. since it was supposed to be muggy & 54 degrees Saturday night. So, we planned our escape for around 6PM.
Baby boy *6yo* had met up w/some friends from Bible School & he was playing wonderfully with them at their site. They were young parents, with two boys the same ages are our two kiddos, and they were tent camping, in one tent. They had been camping since Thursday.
I admired their resilience and smoothness of operation at their campsite. The mom had somehow made puppy chow (in a tent), her kids could ride bikes w/o assistance and they weren’t the least bit whiny, etc. My son had invited one of her sons to our camper to play Wii, something she was not happy about, so she quickly retrieved him. The kid happily left, w/o issue, and I was left in awe. She had simply told her kid that they were going to spend time together as a family at the playground. My son, being his sweet & innocent self, asked if he could join them, but she replied that she preferred to just go as a family. So I was left to explain to my son why that was ok and that he shouldn’t be sad about it.
I noticed that across from them was another family of four, two parents, two 4&6yo kids, camping, all in one tent as well. They were just as happy & had just as much of a smooth, quiet operation going on.
I was actually completely content with our circumstances; my kids were joyfully playing and hubs & I were relaxing. But, when it was time to go, it was a different story. As I tried to sweetly talk my 6yo into leaving his friend’s site, he went into unadulterated meltdown. Kids’ parents were staring at me from afar, all of them. At least they weren’t pointing & shaking their heads at me, I told myself.
In the heat of the moment during this meltdown, my son looked at me and said, ‘I never want to go home with you, I want to live with Nana!’ Alrightee, let’s just all pretend that time just stopped & that no one actually heard that declaration. Let’s pretend that no one is judging me right now. I mean, I’m not a bad mom. I never spank, I prefer calm reason over loud arguing, I do all of the requisite mom-things and I have a happy family. Or so I had thought. Obviously, as that moment demonstrated to everyone within earshot, I was wrong.
So, I quietly scooped him up, smiled to everyone, retreated to our vehicle & headed home, in utter shock.
When we arrived home, tempers had cooled & all was well; we enjoyed the rest of Saturday as a happy family, at home, with our creature comforts in our little family bubble. We got in the hot tub together, we made dinner, we watched kid-movies, we played Wii…
Sunday morning came and we headed back to the lake, our 4th trip of the weekend, which I might add is 60 miles away, for the baptisms in the lake & to remove our camper.
Unfortunately, our kids couldn’t see the baptisms because we were late and therefore were too far back in the crowd to see the activities. Again, another lost opportunity.
The two camping families were still blissfully camping & enjoying the out of doors without the apparent need of electronics, conversation, entertainment, etc and without the first sign of conflict. They said they were going to spend the afternoon fishing and hiking with the kids. I wondered to myself how they would ever have time to do their laundry, go grocery shopping, pack school lunches, do homework and get clothes ready for dance/karate/church, etc for the upcoming week. Those are all things I do on weekends, and every day of the week.
I use every single second of every day to do something. When did these families do those things?
Will my kids grow up and only remember me as the one-who-does-chores-drinks-wine-&-needs-her-own-identity and not the mom-who-makes-puppy-chow-and-sleeps-in-a-tent-and-doesn’t-require-her-own-identity? In other words, would they wonder if I loved them?
So I left the weekend feeling defeated and wondering, even more so than before, how some moms do it, i.e. have it all, do it all, need/want for nothing and have their family-stuff totally together.
In other words, I left just as I had arrived: as myself. As always.
Not that there’s anything wrong with that. Right?